Valley Oak Broadfork
$195 at Valley Oak Tool
The age-old adage “Work smarter, not harder” has few better applications than when breaking ground in a garden.
Broadforks allow you to put those words into practice by using the weight of your body to do the brunt of the work when you till, aerate, or work compost into your garden beds. And because you can do all the work while standing, breaking ground doesn’t have to break your back. The Valley Oak 5-Tine Steel Broadfork is a well-built example made right here in the United States. And while the handles are long enough to accommodate someone as tall as 6 feet 7 inches, it was easy enough for editor Russell Mullin’s 9-year-old nephew to use in previously worked ground. Mullin says, “After I showed him how to use it and set him loose in the garden, I could hardly convince him to come in to eat dinner.”
Now that’s the sign of a good garden tool.
Haws Stainless Steel Soil Rake
$65 at Bosmere
When it comes to moving, spreading, and leveling soil or mulch, a good soil rake is a must-have tool. Combining beauty and brawn, the Haws Stainless Steel Soil Rake does the dirty work in style.
“I never thought I’d call a soil rake beautiful, but this rake certainly is,” says editor Russell Mullin. “But what makes this rake so aesthetically pleasing also makes it superbly functional: The mirror-polished head sheds wet soil and resists rust; the handsome ash handle provides plenty of reach and a sure grip; and the rivets through the elegant long-lipped socket firmly attach the head to the handle. I can tell it’s a tool built to last.”
Haws has been creating fine, functional garden products since 1886, and this rake — the result of a collaboration with Greenman Garden Tools — certainly carries on the legacy.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS Pocket Garden Planner
$5 at Mother Earth News Store
The super-handy MOTHER EARTH NEWS Pocket Garden Planner is a great addition to your favorite garden app, timeless grid paper, or garden-by-nature method. It shows proper indoor and outdoor planting times relative to spring and fall frost dates for 22 of the most commonly grown garden vegetables. The chart slides to accommodate different frost dates in different regions, and the front of the Garden Planner shows the spring planting season while the back displays the fall season.
Editor Rebecca Martin says, “This planner’s a great tool for gardeners who have trouble keeping track of planting dates. You don’t have to fumble with multiple seed packets, trying to find the days to maturity so you can count backward. Just check the planner every weekend, beginning early in your growing season, to know what to plant at that time.”